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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Hourihane could be the man to silence the Molineux

Conor Hourihane of Aston Villa
1 of 1

Sky Bet Championship
Sky Sports Football/Main Event, 5.30pm Saturday

Midlands rivals Wolves and Aston Villa are going well in the Championship and this eagerly-awaited tussle from Molineux looks too close to call.

Wolves have lost just two of 11 under Nuno Espirito Santo and find themselves four points better off than Villa. In a six-match form table, however, Villa are top and they are on a run of four straight wins.

Only a month ago the knives were out for Steve Bruce after back-to-back dreary 0-0 draws at home to Brentford and Middlesbrough had left the club in 18th place.

A sublime 3-0 win at Barnsley bought Bruce some time and three more wins – against Forest, Burton and Bolton – have vaulted them up to seventh.

Wolves were fancied from the off and are now favourites for the title. Rebuilt spectacularly over the past 16 months they look a class act with class players in most positions.

So these two giants can lay on something decent at Molineux where it’s as easy to make the case for the draw as it is either side.

But there’s a greater preference for an anytime scorer bet on Villa’s Republic of Ireland midfielder Conor Hourihane at 7-1

Clearly defensive duties are going to be uppermost in the mind of the Hourihane, whose spirits are sky-high after World Cup joy at Cardiff on Monday night.

But this is a man who has scored five times from midfield for Bruce’s men, is playing better now than at any time since moving to Villa Park from Barnsley in January and is part of a side who are also in fabulous nick.

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Wolves know that defensively they will be tested by the likes of Hourihane and the pacy pair of Albert Adomah and Jonathan Kodjia who will be launched on the counter as often as possible.

Where Wolves, on the other hand, will be confident of success is out wide with Diogo Jota and Ivan Cavaleiro taking on Mohamed Elmohamady and Alan Hutton.

Villa’s first-choice left-back Neil Taylor is suspended and if John Terry or James Chester are dragged out of position because their full-backs have been skinned it could be a long afternoon for the visitors.

C Hourihane to score at any time
1pt 7-1 Betfred

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Key stat 
Villa have won the four games that Jonathan Kodjia has started this season.

Team news
Conor Coady returns from a ban while Barry Douglas is fully fit.

Aston Villa
Long-term crock Jack Grealish is back in training but won’t be considered. Henri Lansbury, Andre Green, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Mile Jedinak are also injured. Neil Taylor is suspended.

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Wolves were fancied from the off and are now favourites for the title
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